18 January, 2019
It is not uncommon for adults, especially senior citizens, to take protein supplements. Sometimes, the doctors themselves prescribe the same, while at times, we, or someone in the family may feel that this is needed. So, do we need protein supplements? Do they help us in any way? Or are they just another marketing gimmick for foisting some unwanted stuff on us? It is but natural that we are highly suspicious of any advice nowadays, especially when it comes from uncertified sources, and sometimes even from certified sources. The one thing we can be sure of though, that our body does need protein. So, can that be met naturally always or will supplements have to be taken, is the issue.
As we age, we lose muscle mass, and this is a common aspect of aging; it cannot be stopped. This will also result in loss of strength, which means that we may not be able to do all the physically strenuous work as easily as we used to do in our youth. It is a different matter that, for those people who have throughout maintained good diet and exercise, the difference felt may be minimal. However, there is a difference, and it cannot be denied.
The key nutrient that is responsible for muscle mass is protein. As we age, we need more of this in the amino acids to maintain the same levels of anabolic activity in our body. This is the way it is advisable for older adults to consume more protein. The extra protein intake provides support for muscle mass, and thus, the people may not feel the lack of strength. Those consuming fewer proteins will clearly feel the same. Also, when we age, a decrease in the factors like salivary flow, stomach acid secretion, intestinal cell absorption capacity, etc., can negatively affect the nutrient absorption rate.
Studies conducted in this direction have proved that older adults need to consume a well-balanced protein supplement, especially before bedtime, to overcome the anabolic resistance in the body. The supplement can help maintain the muscle mass as well as help with few other deficiencies in the body. Hence, you may find that the doctor prescribes a supplement when the need is felt.
The natural options
The best way to combat protein deficiency in the body will be to ensure a healthy and balanced diet that provides the required amount of protein to the body. This means that foods like tuna, trout, salmon, chicken, nuts, and eggs, should be included in your diet. For vegetarians, foods like fresh vegetables, seeds, legumes, beans, soybeans, peanuts, and whole grains can help you make up for the proteins. Sprouts and leafy veggies are other excellent sources for the same, apart from broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, etc. Consuming soy milk is also suggested provided the body constitution agrees with it. A few people may find that the stomach does not agree with soy milk when consumed.
There are many protein supplements available in the market, and most of them do not need a doctor’s prescription. Many are over the counter, and you can use them safely, provided you do not have allergies or restrictions based on any medical conditions or medicines. Most medical shops and online retailers also sell protein supplements. If you are in doubt, it may be good however to consult a doctor before starting any. It is quite possible that you may not be in need of one and if required, the doctor can prescribe the same.
Kindly follow the doctor’s instructions as well as those on the supplement, in case you start taking one, about storage, dosage, frequency, way and time of consumption, etc. This can ensure that you get the maximum benefit out of it and also won’t get any other issues related to it.
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